Hexed

If today’s loss is any indications of future form, the USMNT may have some trouble qualifying for the 2014 World Cup.

The United States men’s national team was defeated by Honduras today in the CONCACAF qualifying final-round opener for the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil 2-1, and it was a pretty lackluster performance from the Stars and Stripes against an opponent that on paper they were better than.

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The USMNT let one get away on the road. (Associated Press)

Of course playing in one of the most violent cities in the world, (San Pedro Sula, Honduras) surrounded by a beehive of opposing fans who want to intimidate and rattle you in incredibly high temperatures didn’t help matters, but it’s not like they hadn’t been there before.

A team in transition, this was the first true test with something on the line for Jurgen Klinsmann’s new look squad, and they weren’t up to par. Despite taking the lead through a Clint Dempsey goal in the 36th minute, they gave the lead up just four minutes later, through a magisterial bicycle kick from Honduras’s Juan Carlos Garcia.

Garcia’s goal (right) gave an immediate response to Dempsey opening salvo, and put all the pressure squarely on the Americans again. (NESN)

After that goal, it was all Honduras. A rising country in the FIFA Rankings, they dominated the United States on the attack during the second half, and finally broke through with a goal in the 78th minute that was a result of Tim Howard coming off his line. They rode out the rest of the contest, and it finished 2-1.

For Honduras, it’s a good result. 3 points at home against one of the top contenders in the group. Can’t get much better than that.

For the Americans, it’s a much different story. Losing this game puts a lot of pressure on a young squad that has to face rivals Costa Rica and Mexico in their next two matches, and Jurgen Klinsmann needs to figure out the right lineup.

Dropping longtime veteran Carlos Bocanegra for the younger Omar Gonzalez might not have been the best idea after all, and several new players, including right back Timmy Chandler and midfielder Danny Williams looked a step slow and a bit hesitant on the ball.

If the new coach can’t figure out the right selection of players, the United States could be in for a long qualifying campaign. But two wins against Costa Rica and Mexico could change all that. 

And so can a possible inclusion of the “retired on break” Landon Donovan.

(MLS)

-Brian Coyle

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    The loss to Honduras isn’t necessarily catastrophic for the US hopes of advancing to the World Cup, but it does cut into...
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